Gerrymander Gazette: U.S. House Passes Sweeping Redistricting Reforms
in which congressional districts would be drawn in every state. If passed into law, this bill would require every state to draw congressional districts using independent citizen redistricting commissions, ban partisan and prison gerrymandering, mandate nonpartisan redistricting criteria, and increase transparency. The bill will now move to the Senate.
The Main Event
Starting this year, voting districts at all levels of government in all 50 states must be redrawn to ensure that districts of the same type have equal population. The U.S. Bureau of the Census has announced that it will send population data needed for redistricting to the states by September 30, 2021, but preparations to give the public a voice in the process have already started. Here is a sample of what’s happening around the country:
- Coalitions are establishing model redistricting commissions that will draw alternative maps through a people-powered process.
- With the Census Bureau requiring more time to effectively process population data, reformers have supported litigation to prevent this updated schedule from shortening timelines for essential public participation in redistricting.
- Reform organizations are training citizens to lead community mapping sessions that will allow residents to effectively tell the stories of their communities.
- While states launch independent citizen redistricting commissions that the public fought to create, advocates are ensuring that these entities represent the diversity of the jurisdictions in which they are located.
- Advocates are training local governments on best practices for drawing fair maps.
- Citizens seeking to change how districts are drawn are going to court to ensure that the pandemic doesn’t interfere with ballot initiative efforts.
- Instagram influencers are shining their gerrymandering jewelry to look sharp for Zoom testimony.
Last week, Common Cause executive directors in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin participated in a press briefing to preview the upcoming fight for a transparent and people-powered redistricting process. They also virtually arm wrestled over who lived in the most gerrymandered state, with no clear winner at the end. Watch Common Cause National Redistricting Director Kathay Feng chat with Khalif Ali (PA), Anthony Gutierrez (TX), Jay Heck (WI), and Bob Phillips (NC) about strategies for taking redistricting out of the shadows and making it a process that puts people first.